Health, Information, and the American Way!

US Congress on Capitol Hill, Washington DC

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Good morning everyone!  I am very excited to be heading to Washington, DC to attend the AHIMA Team Talks and Hill day events!

Why?

Well, first there is the fact that I’ve always been a little bit of an “advocate” at heart. From the ecology club I started in the 7th grade (sigh – only 4 people joined including me), to the letters I used to write on behalf of multiple causes, to the daughter I raised who once failed a history test because she refused to give the desired answers to questions about Christopher Columbus (because he was a usurper of the indigenous people) and who only a couple of weeks ago kindly rearranged books in Barnes and Noble because books written by and about Frederick Douglass were only shelved under “Cultural Studies” and not under American History where  they belonged, I am appreciative of being allowed to be a part of the democratic process that is the United States of America. After all, we’re only here because of a little effort conducted by a band of “advocates” known as The American Revolution, right?

Second, it is important. Health care in our country is in bad shape and health information and technology can play a big part in helping to improve care and to decrease costs.

What is advocacy? According to Princeton University’s WordNet, (2011) advocacy is the, “active support of an idea or cause etc.; especially the act of pleading or arguing for something.”

Yep, that sounds about right.

But what does that have to do with health information?

I’ve referred to HIM previously as the “keeper of the keys” for quality health information, and AHIMA is the keystone of HIM. According to the paper About the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) made available on the AHIMA Communities of Practice Hill Day community, “AHIMA members believe you achieve quality health through quality information” (2011).

Yep, that sounds about right too.

But with so much change happening in the HIM realm including health care reform and its associated Meaningful Use requirements, advances in technology, the coming conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10, it is easy to lose sight of what “quality information” really means, and what we, as a profession, must do to preserve and maintain it.

AHIMA, as an organization 60,000 people strong, has a big voice in advocating for health information. AHIMA organizes its Hill Day as a means to provide members with opportunities to meet to discuss relevant topics, and then to talk about these topics with our elected officials. In short, AHIMA provides us with a wonderful opportunity for advocacy.

On Tuesday during our meetings with our representatives in the 112th Congress, AHIMA members will focus on the following (AHIMA, 2011):

  • The HIM profession and the AHIMA association – who are we and what do we do? Our strategic focus on key points such as the adoption and implementation of the EHR, health information exchange, guidelines for interoperability including attention to standard terminologies and classification systems, privacy and security of health information, ICD-10, and more.
  • Support for the “Health Information Professions Advancement Act” which will address the need for the HIM profession and shortages of knowledgeable, trained professionals.
  • Protection for HIT and HIM initiatives established as part of ARRA-HITECH including Meaningful Use.
  • A solution for the patient identity challenges encountered as HIT evolves.

I will be blogging and tweeting from DC – so stay tuned as Lynn goes to Washington!

You can find more detailed information about AHIMA’s Hill Day on the AHIMA website.

Of note, AHDI/CDIA has its Advocacy Summit scheduled in DC for May 3-4.

See you on The Hill!!

Lynn

Director of Health Information Services

M*Modal

References:

Asmonga, D. (2011) About the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Retrieved March 26, 2011 from http://cop.ahima.org/Community/Topics/tabid/66/ctl/Detail/mid/409/community/63/topic/43217/Default.aspx

Princeton University WordNet. (2011). http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=advocacy

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